Many industries took a hit to revenue and productivity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but top tire companies actually increased sales in both 2020 and 2021.
The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) projects U.S. tire shipments in 2022 will hit 342.1 million units, 2% higher than 2021 (335.2 million units). The future looks bright for the tire industry for now, but how long will that be the case?
With inflation creeping up in the U.S., and various economic forecasters projecting up to an 80% chance of a recession, a continuing increase in tire sales is far from guaranteed.
Recession, inflation and continuing global unrest could lead to disappearing dealers as companies rely on mergers and acquisitions to stay profitable. Tire demand could decrease in tight economic times as more customers adopt the "drive it till the wheels fall off" approach, putting off routine maintenance and upgrades except when absolutely necessary. There is also the danger of increased raw material costs.
Many tire manufacturers and dealers will respond to these challenges by increasing prices, which can cause customers to switch brands. There are other steps tire brands can take, however, that help prepare for tough economic times while retaining customers: